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‘Customs and rituals of a particular community systematically targeted’: BJP MP Manoj Tiwari moves Supreme Court against ban on firecrackers

"In the name of Right to life, freedom of religion cannot be taken away and a balance has to struck,” the PIL filed by Manoj Tiwari said

BJP leader Manoj Tiwari has filed a Public Interest Litigation at the Supreme Court challenging the ban on firecrackers during Diwali. He has sought directions from the court for use of permissible firecrackers during the Hindu festival, and pleaded to lift the blanket ban on the sale, purchase and usage of firecrackers in Delhi and other states.

The apex court has agreed to list the matter on 10th October after advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha mentioned the petition before CJI. In the PIL filed under Article 32, Manor Tiwari has argued that the people are being harassed for celebrating Diwali, which is one of the most important festivals of Diwali.

It states that despite a clear order of the Supreme Court refusing a blanket ban on firecrackers, the Delhi government has announced a blanket ban on storage, sale and use of all types of firecrackers with immediate effect in the capital till 01.01.2023. In order to implement the blanket ban, the Delhi government has also announced to make plans with Delhi Police, DPCC and Revenue Department, which may include FIR against common people for selling and/or using fire-crackers during festive seasons like Deepawali, Chhath, Durga-Puja, etc just like last year.

According to the PIL, this harassment will violate the Freedom of Expression and employment (Article 19), the Right to life (Article 21) of people at large, and will also infringe on freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion of people at large (Article 25).

“It is also the responsibility of Petitioner under fundamental duties (Article 51A) to file this petition so to guide the country in a positive framework and avoid it from getting in the Dark Age where customs and rituals of a particular community were systematically targeted”, the petition further states.

While only the Delhi government has announced a ban on firecrackers this year so far, all other states and union territories have been made respondents in the PIL. Because multiple states had imposed such bans last year, and it is likely that they will announce such measures this year also.

The PIL also said that the SC was moved instead of respective state governments because this issue comes up every year, and there is continuous confusion not only among the masses but also with the administration regarding the usage and ban on the fire-crackers. “There is a regular misunderstanding with regards to the permissible and banned fire-crackers in India resulting in various state governments and their officials passing multiple guidelines/orders which at times go against the orders of this Hon’ble Court,” the petition said.

The petition further said that not just states, even courts have gone against the Supreme Court order of not imposing a blanket ban on firecrackers, as the Calcutta High Court had banned all firecrackers, including green firecrackers, last year. It states that different states issue different orders regarding firecrackers under different sections of various laws, which is confusing for people to understand whether the firecrackers are allowed or not.

The PIL by BJP MP Major Tiwari further adds that in 2021, instead of making proper arrangements for the celebration of Diwali and other Hindu festivals, the state governments had slapped people with FIRs and curfews.

“In the name of Right to life, freedom of religion cannot be taken away and that a balance has to struck,” the PIL argues.

It also notes that on 1st September, Delhi police had issued advertisement for issuance of temporary license to sell firecrackers, but they were forced to withdraw it after the Arvind Kejriwal govt announced the blanket ban.

The PIL further seeks answers to several questions, which are:

  1. Whether there is a complete ban on the crackers?
  2. Whether states and High Courts can put a blanket ban on the firecrackers at a time when this Hon’ble Court has refused to do the same?
  3. Whether there could be coercive actions like FIR against the common people for the usage of firecrackers?
  4. Whether there could be coercive actions like FIR lodged against the common people/small seller for selling of firecrackers?
  5. Whether state has the responsibility to allow the citizens to celebrate their festivals peacefully without any fear?
  6. Whether state can put unreasonable restrictions like curfew and Section 144 CrPC during a festival of masses?
  7. Whether state has the responsibility to curb pollution through other measures?
  8. Whether Apex Court being guardian of the Constitution is responsible to protect the future of India and look into this matter?

The petition cites the Supreme Court’s order which said that there is no total ban on use of firecrackers. The court had said that only those firecrackers will be banned which are found to be injurious to health and affecting the health of the citizens.

Therefore, the PIL seeks that the Supreme Court issue fresh guidelines on sale, purchase and use of firecrackers, not to take any coercive action for sale of use of permissible firecrackers during festivals, order states to take necessary measures to reduce the pollution.

The issue of a ban on firecrackers appears every year ahead of Diwali, blaming the Hindu festival for the grave air pollution faced by Delhi and neighbouring areas during the fall season. Every year Diwali is targeted despite studies showing that the festival’s contribution to air pollution is negligible and temporary, while the major causes are stubble burning by farmers in nearby states, vehicles and construction activities, weather patterns and the geographical location of the area.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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